It's imperative that as student affairs professionals we double as lifelong learners. New techniques, methods, policies and procedures are constantly being created to make things better for our departments and our students. If we don’t know about these things we can’t implement them. And the students are the ones who miss out. We can become lifelong learners by continuously seeking opportunities to learn and grow. Joining a student affairs or higher education nationwide association, like NASPA or ACPA, allows us to attend conferences and seminars, obtain student affairs materials and network with others. Learning from others is often underrated. When we get together with people in our field and discuss current events or hot topics, ideas begin to flow and bounce off one another, leading to discoveries and new insights, which can be put into effect in our daily interactions with students. Networking can also take place through social media. Social media is the easiest way to pose a question to a large audience or to gather resources. Social media provides instant access to a diverse database of professional experiences and personal advice. Even though knowledge can be attained through a community, it can also be acquired through personal reflection and research. Reading published journal articles on a particular subject or reflecting on past student interactions can prove beneficial to our growth as student affairs professionals. The key to becoming a lifelong learner is an internal drive to gather and spread knowledge. Knowledge is everywhere. It's the extent to which we seek it that provides the benefits to our lives. As we seek knowledge and apply it, we suddenly see a perfect resolution to a long-standing situation or the ideal addition to a strategic plan. As we implement our findings, we better ourselves and as a result, we better serve our students.
5 Ways to Start Your Learning Right Now:
- Check out webinars and workshops in between conferences offered by the major higher education associations (NASPA and ACPA) They're usually advertised on their websites.
- Don't be afraid to Google topics you're interested in
- Peruse popular higher education journals, such as About Campus, American Educational Research Journal, College Student Affairs Journal, etc.
- Sign up for emails, newsletters, and anything higher education or student affairs related.
- Snatch up some books. There are a variety of books on countless topics in education, ranging from teaching to curriculum design, to student behavior. Here are a few from the NASPA Bookstore: